Rocket League Review
If you have been living under a rock for the past year (or perhaps you just gloss over non-Xbox gaming news!) you may not be switched on to the hype surrounding Rocket League‘s arrival on Xbox One. Let us help. It’s football. With cars. And acrobatics. And rockets. And explosions. If any one of those things interests you, you’ll want to know more. If those things turn you off, let’s try one more thing: multiplayer fun that doesn’t take itself seriously in the slightest.
Rocket League has been available on PC and PS4 for some time, and made the rocket-powered-leap to Xbox One just last week. It’s fair to say the move was a popular one – developer Psyonix Studios announced just prior to the release on Xbox One that 11 million people had pre-purchased the game!
So what is it? Rocket League is essentially the craziest version of car football (or soccer, depending on where you are from) that you are likely to ever see. The game allows you to be part of a team of up to four cars, or play solo 1 vs 1, to try and flip, boost and trick your way to victory.
Rocket League is incredibly easy to pick up and play. It requires very little explanation – the five minute ‘basics’ tutorial provides new players with enough knowledge to get involved. Controls are well thought out – accelerate and brake/reverse on RT and LT respectively, A is jump, B is boost, and X is for powerslides. Steer with the left thumb stick and camera control on the right. Y will switch the camera view – either a traditional ‘follow’ camera, or a shifting perspective that always keeps the ball in front of you.
While the basics will get you up and running, there is real subtlety and depth to the controls – learning how to chain jumps and boosts together in ever more elaborate ways to out-manoeuvre and out-score your opponents is incredibly satisfying. The learning curve here is superbly judged.
Playing on your own against bots – with AI levels from Rookie to Rocket-League-Adonis is fun, but Rocket League comes into its own when playing against – or alongside – other people. Both split screen and online play is supported for matches of up to eight players. This is an incredibly social experience!
The ease with which you can learn how to play, the simplicity of the controls, the short (but frantic) matches and well-thought through social and matchmaking mechanics makes for a very casual gaming experience. By that we mean the game, with its ludicrously over-the-top subject matter, is really easy to pick up and play when you have just a few minutes to spare. Be warned though – it’s not easy to put down after just a single match! This accessibility makes a welcome change, though, from today’s blockbuster console titles which demand uninterrupted hours of attention.
As casually fun as the game is, if you want to get good – and we mean really good – Rocket League will take practice. This truly is a game that’s easy to play, and difficult to master.
The level of customisation on offer is excellent. You can change the shell of the car, from muscle and sports cars to vans and, exclusively on Xbox One, the Gears of War Armadillo and the Halo Hogsticker, a loving homage to the legendary UNSC Warthog. On top of this you can choose the colour of your vehicle (providing it includes some shade of blue or orange) plus decals, wheels, and roof ornaments. All this customisation is purely cosmetic, though – all cars have the same abilities and the hitboxes all seem identical, so choosing an A-Team van over the Back to the Future DeLorean (paid DLC) doesn’t give you any advantage or penalty.
The customisation doesn’t end with your rocket-powered steeds, though. Almost every aspect of the physics can be adjusted – from the level of gravity in the arena to the size, density, bounciness or even shape of the ball (a word of warning, don’t pair super-light gravity with a super-light, ultra-bouncy ball. You’ll be waiting forever for that thing to come down!) There is an update planned for later this week called Snow Day; Rocket League meets ice-hockey with slippery ice-filled arenas and a giant puck instead of a ball.
Graphically the visuals are solid – the framerate ticks along nicely with no drop outs noticed even in the most hectic of matches, and sound design is suitably atmospheric. The sound track is available on Spotify, too!
Rocket League isn’t perfect – there are some minor niggles. For example, having completed a Ranked Match you have to return to the Main Menu before you can play another. A minor issue (annoying when all you want to do is jump straight into the next match!) but nothing that’s not fixable in an update, we’re sure. A couple more game modes wouldn’t go amiss, either – we’re excited to see what Snow Day brings!
Rocket League takes an incredibly simple premise and turns it into one of the most fun multiplayer experiences in years. The game’s pick-up-and play accessibility coupled with a real depth and subtlety for those who want to master the skills makes it feel deliberately old-school. Add in a fantastic split screen option and neat online matchmaking and there’s very little to dislike about the package. As a bonus, the Xbox One version includes all the DLC released separately for the other platforms, and includes a few nods to the platform’s exclusive IP, too.
To watch us play Rocket League against some of our Facebook Group members, check out the video below! (Spoiler – our members trounced us time and again!)
Rocket League is available to download now from the Xbox Store priced £15.99, but YOU COULD WIN YOUR VERY OWN COPY!
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